Is A Steel Building Right For You? Here’s 7 Benefits (plus how to get started)
When lumber prices skyrocketed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people began looking into alternative building materials.
There are lots of options to consider, such as concrete, stone, recycled materials, and even straw bale construction!
One option rose to the forefront: steel.
We don’t know if steel is the answer to all construction problems, but over the years here at K Graber, we have learned that building with steel comes with some remarkable benefits.
Today we want to help you understand what steel construction is and the benefits of using it for your next commercial, agricultural, or industrial building project.
Ready to learn what these benefits are?
Let’s get started!
What Is Steel Building Construction?
Let’s back up for a second.
You might not understand how steel construction is different from traditional construction.
What makes steel construction unique?
All this steel is usually anchored to a concrete base. The steel columns that support the building are not buried in the ground, but bolted to a solid concrete foundation.
Because of their concrete foundations, steel buildings are at less of a risk for foundational shifting than buildings where the main columns are buried in the ground. Besides this, steel buildings won’t crack, rot, warp, or become insect-infested.
Another cool thing about steel buildings is that they can come in kits. A kit contains all the things you need to assemble the building: framing, cladding, fasteners, windows, doors, and accessories. All the parts are made to size and all you need to do is assemble them, which makes for quick and easy construction.
Steel Buildings vs. Pole Barns
People often confuse steel barns and pole barns. In order to understand steel construction better, let’s look at the differences between the two types of buildings.
Here’s how pole barns are different from steel barns:
Traditional pole barns are built using wood beams for the main frame. The poles are buried in the ground and the wood frame is covered in metal sheeting. Sometimes pole barns have concrete foundations, but often they just have dirt floors.
(Did you know pole barns can be used as homes? Check out the pole barn home services K. Graber offers, and read our blog, 4 Reasons Your Next Home Should Be A Pole Barn Home for more information.)
Steel buildings are constructed using rigid steel for the framing. Steel columns are anchored with bolts or screws to a concrete foundation (not buried in the ground), and steel rafters make up the roof frame. The building is covered with steel sheeting.
Pole barns are cheaper to build than steel barns, but they often take additional (costly) maintenance over the years, whereas steel barns take basically none. Also, insurance rates for pole barns are usually higher than for steel barns because pole barns are more susceptible to natural or weather-related damage.
And what about the other components of steel buildings?
Let’s break things down further and look at the parts and construction of steel buildings
Parts Of A Steel Framed Building Kit
Steel buildings often come in kits.
A prefabricated steel building kit contains everything you need to erect a building. (Except the concrete foundation. You have to provide that!)
The kit contains ready-made framing materials, cladding, trim, fasteners, doors, windows, and instructions for putting it all together. All it needs is assembly.
It’s basically a lifesize version of a kid’s model set.
And what exactly are you going to find in a steel building kit?
Here is what some of the main parts of a steel building are called.
- Columns are the main posts on the sides of the building that provide support for the structure. The columns on the corners are called corner columns. The space between two columns is called a bay.
- Girders are the horizontal pieces that connect to the columns on the sides of the building. They provide structural integrity and a place to attach walls to the building.
- Main frame rafters are the main rafters of the building. They attach to the top of the columns. The rafters at each end of the building are called the endwall rafters.
- Purlins are the horizontal pieces that attach to the rafters and provide a frame for the roofing materials. The purlins at the very edge of the building are called the eave struts.
A steel building kit makes for low labor costs and quick, easy assembly. If you have previous experience with construction and a few helpful friends, you might even be able to do it yourself. However, don’t attempt this if you don’t have any previous construction experience.
If you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself, you can always hire a contractor to do it for you.
If you are in the North-Central Indiana area, give us a call here at K Graber Construction! We are your one-stop shop for the entire steel building construction process.
Constructing A Steel Building
Maybe you would like to build a steel garage or shop but don’t know how to start.
We get that! Everyone has a first time.
Here’s an idea of what the process of steel building construction looks like from start to finish.
Step 2 - Plan, draw and engineer your building. The experts can help you with this step.
Step 3 - Sit back while the manufacturer fabricates the pieces of your building.
Step 4 - While you are waiting, prep your ground and site, which includes pouring the concrete foundation slab for your building.
Step 5 - When your steel building kit arrives, start with the framing.
Step 6 - Install sheeting over the steel frame.
Step 7 - Install accessories and trim.
Step 8 - Enjoy your new building! You finally have your dream tool shed, garage, or horse barn!
If you are still confused, give us a call at K Graber Construction! We can help you with everything from design to assembly.
We would love to hear from you!
Types Of Steel Buildings
What types of steel buildings could you build?
The options are almost limitless!
People commonly use steel for buildings such as these:
- Agricultural buildings like barns for animals and sheds for storing equipment or animal feed
- Indoor riding arenas or sports facilities
- Airplane hangers
- Storage facilities
- Industrial facilities for manufacturing
- Home garages or workshops
- Commercial center buildings like retail shops, office complexes, or service centers
Yes, people even use steel to build their houses. It’s not the most common material to use for a home, but it does come with some perks, such as cutting down on construction costs and timeline.
Steel is a pliable, versatile material you can shape however you want, which means there is lots of flexibility when building a steel structure. You can usually customize your steel building however you would like it.
Also, because steel is so tough and rigid, it can span great distances without needing any type of internal support system. This makes it great for extensive facilities like airplane hangers.
As you can see, you can use steel for some pretty neat stuff!
But why should you consider building with steel over traditional construction methods?
We’ll find out in the next section!
7 Benefits of Steel Buildings
Now we have an idea of what steel construction is. But why would you build with steel as opposed to traditional methods?
Well, it turns out building with steel comes with some incredible perks!
Let’s find out what some of these perks are.
After you assemble your steel building, you can basically sit back and forget about it.
Other types of buildings, such as pole barns, wear down and decay over years. You will have to keep investing in these buildings to keep them in working order.
On the other hand, steel can last for years with practically no maintenance. Even cleaning your steel building is simple and easy.
Steel is one of the toughest building materials we know of!
It has the highest tensile strength of any building material (discounting little-used materials like titanium,) and it is inorganic which means it is resistant to rot, mold, and pests. Steel lasts for years without warping, rotting, wearing down, or decaying.
Discounting things like natural disasters, your steel building will outlive its original purpose and last for years.
Because of their interchangeable steel parts, steel buildings are much easier to renovate and update than any other type of building. It is super easy to add to a steel building or adapt it for another purpose.
For some people, this is a deciding factor because it means that if their business grows and changes, their building can grow and change as well.
Being made of interchangeable parts also makes steel buildings easy to repair if they get damaged.
Another huge reason people go for steel buildings is that they make construction so fast and easy. If you are on a tight time budget, there’s no better method of construction for you!
Normally the steel parts are prefabricated (made the right size and shape) off-site in a factory, so they show up ready for assembly. Because of this, steel building construction can take just ⅔ of the time other types of construction take.
You also need fewer workers to put up a steel building, which means you save money on labor.
Steel buildings are good for the environment in a variety of ways:
- Since the parts for the building are prefabricated, there is little to no waste on the construction site.
- Steel can reduce your energy costs because it can support thick layers of insulation to keep in AC and heat.
- If you are using steel, you are not using wood, which means you are not cutting down trees.
- Steel is 100% recyclable. In fact, it is the most recycled material in the world! Any waste from the construction process can simply be recycled. And if you no longer want your building, you can tear it down and recycle the whole thing.
Steel construction is considered one of the most environmentally conscious methods of construction there is.
Because steel is inorganic it is inedible and won’t attract destructive pests like termites, rodents, weevils, and ants. It also won’t grow mold or fungus.
And if you want to keep livestock in your building, the livestock won’t be able to chew the steel.
Also, imagine this:
Steel buildings don’t have lots of rafters, which means there are fewer places for birds to nest in your roof. This means no bird droppings on your floors and equipment!
Price differences vary, but steel is generally more expensive than wood.
Because of this and the need for a concrete foundation, the upfront costs of steel building materials are probably going to be higher than that of wood.
But the savings don’t come from the cost of materials. They come from the lifetime costs of your building:
- Steel buildings take much less maintenance than other types of buildings, so you don’t have to keep pouring time and money into them over the years.
- Steel buildings are tougher and more durable than wood ones, so insurance for steel buildings is often lower.
- Steel buildings last forever, so you won’t have to replace them.
- Steel buildings are easy to assemble, so you won’t have to spend as much on labor costs.
- Steel buildings are often more energy-efficient and can lower your utility bills.
So while the initial cost of a steel building is usually higher than that of a wood building, the cost of the building ends there. Over a lifetime, a steel building costs less to keep and maintain than other types of buildings.
If you need to save money within the next six months, it may be better to choose an option with a lower upfront cost. But if you want quality and low cost over the long run, steel wins every time.
As you can see, building with steel comes with some remarkable benefits!
At K Graber Construction, we have seen these benefits work out for our clients in real life.
Are you ready to experience them too?
If you would like to start planning a steel barn, shop, or other facility, give us a call here at K Graber! We can help you with everything from planning and engineering to pouring your foundation to constructing your steel building kit.
Plus, it’s easy to work with us:
- Get a free quote
- Approve the estimate and design
- Sit back as we begin construction for you
- Enjoy your new building!
We look forward to hearing from you.